Kanye Week: We Need to Talk About Kanye

Welcome to Kanye Week, in celebration of our new 33 1/3 title on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (hereafter MBDTF) by Kirk Walker Graves, out June 19. In this first post, Graves addresses the difficulty of talking about someone who talks so much himself. He’s a poet, he’s a picker He’s a prophet, he’s a pusher He’s a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he’s stoned He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.  –…

Coming soon! EPMOW, Vol. 12

We’re very pleased to announce a teaser for the publication of the twelfth volume in our critically lauded reference series, Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. We’ve just published this year, Volume 9 which explores genres in the Caribbean and Latin America. Here, as a teaser article for the International Volume (XII), we present an excerpt on Gospel and Christian Popular Music by Dr. Monique Ingalls. International Gospel and Christian Music Dr. Monique Ingalls (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is Assistant Professor of Music at Baylor University. Published in the…

Beach Boys Week: Video Vault: Shooting the Curl

We wrap up Beach Boys Week, in celebration of #94 in the 33 1/3 series, Beach Boys’ Smile by Luis Sanchez (out now!) with a video vault in celebration of “Surf’s Up” and Smile’s place in the canon. When I interviewed Van Dyke Parks in 2009 about his thoughts and recollections of being a working musician in 1960s Southern California and his creative relationship with Brian Wilson, he shared something that made a lasting impression on me. On the subject of what makes Smile such a vital work of art,…

Beach Boys Week: The Beach Boys and Comedy

Welcome to Beach Boys Week, in celebration of #94 in the 33 1/3 series, Beach Boys’ Smile by Luis Sanchez (out now!). This time around, Sanchez looks at the relationship between the band and comedy. A Beach Boy walks into a bar… There’s a peculiar moment captured during a Beach Boys studio session outtake that you can find on the 1996 Pet Sounds Sessions boxed set. It punctuates a break between takes for the instrumental track for “Hang On To Your Ego.” The session sounds like it’s going well enough—musicians…

Beach Boys Week: Beach Boys at the Movies

Welcome to Beach Boys Week, in celebration of #94 in the 33 1/3 series, Beach Boys’ Smile by Luis Sanchez (out now!). In his first entry, Sanchez looks at the beach and surf movie legacy of Brian Wilson and Co. One of the greatest ironies of the Beach Boys early music is that, for all its power to evoke a sense of Southern California place and mindset, only Dennis Wilson is remembered as an actual surfer. One theme I explore in my book is the tension between authenticity and inauthenticity,…

Affect, Protest and the ‘Death’ of Political Popular Music

Marie Thompson is co-editor, with Ian Biddle, of Sound, Music, Affect (2013). A writer and researcher, based in Nottingham, UK, she recently completed her PhD thesis, ‘Beyond Unwanted Sound: Noise, Affect and Aesthetic Moralism’, at the International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University. She teaches at Lincoln School of Media, University of Lincoln. Marie is also active as a musician, playing solo as Tragic Cabaret and in the band Beauty Pageant. We are often told that political music is over. In recent years, there have been a number of articles…

Dilla Week: Video Vault, Episode 26

We wrap up Dilla Week, in celebration of #93 in the 33 1/3 series, J Dilla’s Donuts by Jordan Ferguson (out now!), with our perennial favorite feature: the video vault. Enjoy, and thanks to Jordan for his hard and thoughtful work! Deciding on a video to wrap up Donuts week proved more difficult than I was expecting. I wanted to hand the spotlight to the man himself, but considering the nature of the album and the circumstances of its creation, there aren’t any official videos or live footage of its…

Dilla Week: Dilla’s Still Here

Welcome back to Dilla Week, in celebration of #93 in the 33 1/3 series, J Dilla’s Donuts by Jordan Ferguson (out now!). Today, Jordan speaks to the enormous staying power of Dilla’s work, long after the man himself is gone. One of the things that continues to amaze me about J Dilla (and there are many) is that for a man who passed away over eight years ago, his influence is felt as much today as it was when he was alive, if not more. His aesthetic can be heard…

Dilla Week: Dilla Taught Me

Welcome back to Dilla Week, in celebration of #93 in the 33 1/3 series, J Dilla’s Donuts by Jordan Ferguson (out now!). Today, Jordan talks about lessons in life and music courtesy James Yancey. In my experience, there are two types of hip-hop fans: one type appreciates the music as it is, and is content to enjoy it on its own merits; the other feels compelled to dig into the workings of the music, to discover the sample sources and investigate how DJs and producers have used them to create…

Dilla Week: Best vs. Most Interesting

Welcome to Dilla Week, in celebration of #93 in the 33 1/3 series, J Dilla’s Donuts by Jordan Ferguson (out now!). We rejoin our author in his thoughts on “best” vs. “most interesting” when it comes to Dilla. Donuts is not J Dilla’s best work. “Blasphemy!” you scream. “How can you say that?! You wrote an entire book on this album! You listened to it literally hundreds of times!” Yes, I did. I continue to listen to it happily. I wanted to write about it because I find it his…